Airlie Beach Race Week - Will Team Vodafone defend title?

Team Vodafone
Ian Grant
Whitsunday Sailing Club officials generally accepted that the impressively fast course times set by the New Zealand ORMA 60 trimaran Team Vodafone during Airlie Beach Race Week 2011 would stand for some time.

Team Vodafone regularly set the speed sailing pace in the high 20 knot range and logged a peak of 33 knots. Simon Hull (skipper) and his thrill seeking crew dominated the overall line honours trophy last August.

Team Vodafone easily claimed the title as the fastest ocean sailing yacht in the Southern Hemisphere when the crew produced a similar display at Hamilton Island Race Week.

At the time a relatively reserved Simon Hull who had steered Team Vodafone to her impressive list of anti-foul blistering speeds said 'I personally believe we have opened an exciting new playing field'.

He also confidently predicted that the ORMA 60 fever would steadily become infectious to eventually have the class racing in major blue water events in the Southern Hemisphere.

His vision could become a reality on the warm tropical Whitsunday Island waters later this year.

Sean Langman has already nominated his Brisbane to Gladstone race record breaker Team Australia to contest the
Airlie Beach Race Week Multihull championship.

Hopefully the early entry of Team Australia has set up the usual intense trans Tasman sporting rivalry to possibly force Simon Hull and his Team Vodafone to ‘cross the ditch’ and become tactically engaged in protecting their respected reputation of being the fastest crew to compete at Queensland’s premier race week regattas.

However Team Australia, who sailed her first official coastal passage race over the Easter weekend where the crew admitted to embracing a steep learning curve in managing a decisive list of split second decisions, proved they are race ready to take up the challenge.

They were naturally nominated as the line honours favourite when the sails were tensioned for Australia’s only official Multihull ocean race on Good Friday Morning.

At precisely 3-38-21 on Easter Saturday morning the Team Australia crew including owner skipper Sean Langman his 18 year old son Peter, talented female tactician Katie Spithill and experienced ‘boat boss’ Josh Alexander had completed the fastest Gladstone Race elapsed time in history.

Their remarkable course time for the 308 n/ml race was 16 hours 28 minutes 21 seconds for an average speed of 18.70 knots.

This result was a satisfying achievement for Sean Langman who already holds two of the three fastest times in the monohull Brisbane to Gladstone Race however it could be put to the test if the proud Team Vodafone crew accept the challenge to defend their line honours title at Airlie Beach Race Week from August 10-12.